U.S. News and World Report ranks the RCP as the 3rd highest rated rehabilitation counseling program in the United States among all rehabilitation counseling programs in the United States.


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Infographic of RCP program

The Department of Administration, Rehabilitation and Postsecondary Education (ARPE) prepares students to be effective practitioners, administrators, and leaders in the field of Rehabilitation. The degree has been accredited by the Commission on Rehabilitation Education since 1975.

Students in the SDSU RCP can complete the Master in Rehabilitation Counseling degree through both on-campus and distance options. Both options are 60 units and typically take two and one half to three years to complete. The on-campus program offers instruction at the SDSU main campus, with classes usually offered in the Lamden Hall building. Classes are held Monday through Thursday from either 4 pm to 6:40 pm or 7:00 pm to 9:40 during the Fall and Spring semesters. Most students in the on-campus program reside in the San Diego area but the on-campus program does include out of state and international students.

The RCP's distance option is entirely taken online with instructional support provided by the SDSU Interwork Institute's Center for Distance Learning (II-CDL). The program is only available to students living outside of San Diego County, and is taken by students throughout California, as well as other states and countries, Individuals residing in San Diego County are not eligible for the distance program. The distance program is referred to as CDER (Consortium for Distance Education in Rehabilitation). Historically the distance program was focused on providing instruction to students employed by the California Department of Rehabilitation or other State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies (for background on the CDER program, click the link to visit the distance program introduction). Today, CDER includes meeting the needs of all potential students, whether they are new to the rehabilitation counseling profession, or have experience in State Vocational Rehabilitation or other agencies that employ rehabilitation counselors/professionals. Many students come to the program with life experiences, such as living and working with their own disabilities and/or relationships with family members or friends with disabilities. Many bring diverse experiences in the human services fields.

The on-campus rehabilitation counseling program admits students every fall semester. The distance program option typically admits students once every three years, with the next expected start date being fall 2024.

What is Rehabilitation Counseling?

Rehabilitation empowers people to make informed choices, build viable careers, and live more independently in the community. The primary focus of career preparation in rehabilitation is developing counseling skills, acquiring knowledge of disabilities and demonstrating respect and sensitivity for people with disabilities. Knowledge and practice of these principles, combined with a solid foundation of specialized education in the rehabilitation field, enable dedicated rehabilitation professionals to partner with individuals with disabilities to obtain gainful employment, pursue meaningful careers, and live independently. 

NOTE: The concentrations and specializations described below are not available to CDER (distance) students.

Concentration in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling

The Clinical Concentration meets the education requirements for the California mental health counselor license (LPCC) as well as the Certificate in Co-Occurring Disorders. It is the responsibility of the student/graduate to register as an APCC and complete the required supervision hours and exams for the LPCC after graduation. LPCC requirements are available on the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) website.

The Co-Occurring Disorders or Psychiatric Rehabilitation Certificates may be a better option for some applicants.

Areas of Specialization

Students enrolled in the campus (not the CDER distance) option of the MS in Rehabilitation Counseling have options for specializing in specific areas of study, including Cognitive Disabilities, Rehabilitation Technology, Supported Employment and Transition Services, and Psychiatric Rehabilitation. By completing one of these specialization areas, students can earn a post-baccalaureate certificate concurrently with the MS degree. Students may consult with their faculty advisor to customize a program of study if there are other areas of interest that are not formally available.

The Rehabilitation Counseling Program’s curriculum is aligned with the requirements of the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC). Students and graduates of the program are eligible to pursue certification by taking the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) examination, which is administered by the CRCC.

Please contact Dr. Mark Tucker, the RCP Program Coordinator, at or 619-594-3498 for further information.